The rising cost of doing business and reduced tourism accommodation supply meant the key tourism month of July wasn’t as strong as hoped, new data from the sector suggests.
The latest monthly dashboard from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) points out that 650,200 international visitors came to this country from abroad during the month.
That was down 44% on the same month in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic began, although ITIC points out that the data collection methodology used by the Central Statistics Office has changed in the interim.
But ITIC says there is still enough evidence to suggest that the tourism sector’s recovery to pre-pandemic levels is much slower than hoped.
“Tourism’s recovery has stalled. Airports are busy but numbers are inflated by Irish people travelling abroad and hotel occupancy levels are inflated by Government contracts for humanitarian purposes,” said Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of ITIC.
“The actual number of tourists in the country is well shy of where it was and where it needs to be.”
Mr O’Mara Walsh added that Government remains over-reliant on the sector to house refugees and asylum seekers.
He reiterated his call for a more balanced approach including exploring all forms of accommodation.
Currently around a fifth of hotels and guesthouse beds are now occupied by Ukrainian refugees and international asylum seekers.
“There are tourism towns throughout the country without an adequate stock of tourism bed and therefore with very little tourism activity,” said Mr O’Mara Walsh.
“Downstream tourism businesses such as attractions, adventure and activity providers, restaurants and bars are being hit particularly hard and have seen tourism business fall through no fault of their own.”
The industry is seeking a mitigation fund for businesses that are being impacted by the issues as well as energy supports and a VAT assistance scheme to boost the supply of hire cars.